Typhoon Ruby

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The Peace Corps has pre-established consolidation points, which volunteers are required to report to in the event of an emergency. Last Thursday, we were ordered to consolidate because Typhoon Ruby, known internationally as Typhoon Hagupit (meaning “the whip”), was heading towards the Philippines with considerable force. The past few days I have received constant text message updates about the storm with details such as…“Typhoon Ruby is making landfall early Sunday morning moving at 10 kph. By Monday morning she will be in the waters between Masbate and Romblon with wind speeds of 120kph.” This typhoon, which killed 21 people on the Filipino Island of Eastern Samar, was expected to slam straight into my province of Romblon around 10pm on Sunday.

Friday and Saturday were devoted to preparation for the disaster: trees and loose branches were chopped down. Items were moved off the floor and onto the bed in apprehension of flooding. Gates were closed, windows taped, furniture moved inside. Response vehicles were packed with drinking water and food rations. A boat was brought into town for rescuing stranded victims.

My group of 10 Peace Corps volunteers waited out the storm on the second floor of a hotel, located a few blocks from my home. Other locals were evacuated to cement churches, schools, and hospital buildings selected for their durability. And so began the waiting game…

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The Philippines receives an average of about 20 typhoons (aka hurricane) each year, generally between June and November, however this storm, arriving late in the season, was expected to be a big one. When I went to bed on Sunday night, Ruby had already begun crashing through the Philippines and I was expecting her to wreck havoc on my home throughout the night. However when the morning arrived it was as if the storm had simply evaporated. We were extremely lucky and the typhoon took a sudden turn north and missed my province entirely. We received two days of wind and rain, but no substantial damage. Thank you for all of your thoughts, prayers and well wishes. I am happy to be here and safe! Check out the news reports for other updates on the storm damage. I am still waiting to hear news from other volunteers as to how their sites faired.

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